“In India chai is more than just a tea, it's a sentiment.”
A short introduction
In a country where spices are an essential part of the cuisine, tea is not an exception. Chai tea as we call it is a blend of black tea mixed with a range of herbs and spices. Chai tea translated into Hindi is tea, tea. The proper name would be Masala Chai or Masala Tea. Masala Chai is consumed throughout parts of Asia and the Middle East as commonly as an English breakfast, or Earl Grey tea is in Australia or the United Kingdom. The ingredients do vary from place to place as everyone has their interpretation of the perfect balance. The ultimate goal is to create an indulgent, relaxing and warming flavour. Most commonly used ingredients are ginger, cloves, cardamom, black peppercorns, star anise and cinnamon, all steeped in hot milk and usually sweetened with a little honey.
Proper chai should never be brewed from a teabag. Preparation and drinking are about socialising as well, taking the time and effort and ultimately having fun.
At our place, chai is an absolute winter staple. The combination of spices with black tea and honey, for us, is as good as comfort food gets. We are proud to offer two specially crafted chai variations, both with their own beautiful characteristics - one more traditional and complex, and the other sweet and unique.
Time to have some fun!
Last weekend, while sipping on a cup of our Casa Chai, Mafalda and I were feeling creative. After some discussion, we realised that chai might be one of the most versatile of all our blends. So, we decided to experiment. We set ourselves a challenge to create a meal and a cocktail using only what we had in our pantry and fridge. We both love a White Russian which is a cocktail made of vodka, Kahlua, milk and lots of ice! What if we could spice it up a bit? We decided that our Casa Chai would be the perfect pair with this cocktail, so the experiment No.1 began! Here's how it went down...
Chai Kitchen Experiment No.1 - Chai Russian
Tea used: Casa Chai
1 shot glass of vodka
1 shot glass of Kahlua
6 grams of Casa Chai (two heaped teaspoons)
1 teaspoon of honey
A splash of milk
- Brew the tea in traditional way first. Add ½ a cup of boiling water per person to a stove-top pot or small saucepan. Add 6 grams of fresh Casa Chai to the pan. Simmer on LOW heat with boiled water for around 3-5 minutes and occasionally stir with love. Keep the heat on low until steam begins to rise. Strain to a mug and add honey to taste. Allow to cool.
Choose your vessel and fill it with ice. Add vodka and Kahlua, and give it a stir pour into the mix a shot glass of chai. Add milk to taste and stir with a stick of cinnamon.
That's a wrap! Or, is it? You might want to repeat this chai kitchen experiment over and over again, under the excuse of mastering the process. This cocktail is so dangerously good that we both ended up quite tipsy after indulging in a few of these, so go easy!
While we were on a roll and slightly inebriated Mafalda brought out our Sticky Sweet Chai from The Casa Creations Collection. This gorgeous chai is made from organic tea leaves steeped in honey, then blended with organic chai spices including pink Himalayan salt. We gave it some thought and decided our lovingly indulgent blend would pair perfectly with chicken. We had a free-range chicken in the fridge ready for roasting, so I got out the old mortar and pestle and began to grind myself up a spicy rub.
Chai Kitchen Experiment N0.2 - Sticky Chai Chicken with Orange
Tea used: Sticky Sweet Chai
4 cloves of garlic
4 heaped teaspoons of sticky sweet chai
2 teaspoons of Orange rind
4 teaspoons of rock salt
1 tablespoon of olive oil
3 thin slices of orange
- Preheat the oven to 220 °C
- For the rub, grind up three large cloves of garlic, three teaspoons of Sticky Sweet Chai, three teaspoons of rock salt and two teaspoons of orange rind using mortar and pestle.
- Season the chicken cavity with the rub and place one clove of garlic and three orange slices in the cavity.
- Brush the chicken with olive oil until all the skin is glistening. Add the rub and spread it out evenly across the chicken skin. Do not rinse the chicken as it will take on too much moisture preventing the skin from becoming nice and crispy. Cover the chicken with foil and cook for around 55 mins.
- Remove the foil and cook for another 15 mins uncovered until golden brown.
- When the chicken looks ready, poke with a fork. If the liquid that comes out is clear, remove the chicken from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes before serving.
Would we want to experiment with chai again?
Absolutely! Chai is most definitely more than just a tea. Our chai kitchen experiment proved chai's versatility, and even better, the results were incredibly delicious!
Don't be afraid to experiment with tea. Brew it hot, brew it cold, mix it with your favourite cocktail, pair it with food, but most of all - have fun with it! What is critical is to use high-quality ingredients and organic where possible. Remember, tea is food, and food should feed your body and soul.
Maf & Brad xxx